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IOC calms concern about 2018 Olympics amid NKorea tension

By: The Associated Press
September 22, 2017 Updated: September 22, 2017 at 11:18 am
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French President Emmanuel Macron, right, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, center, and French Minister for Sports Laura Flessel arrive for a meeting at the city hall as part of a visit to the site of the future Olympic Sailing venue (Voile Olympique) at the “Marina Olympique” nautical base in Marseille, southern France, after the decision for Paris to host of the 2024 Summer Olympics Games, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. (Jean-Paul Pelissier/Pool Photo via AP)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland  — Responding to France’s sports minister raising security risks at the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, the IOC has tried to calm concern about the Pyeongchang Games in February.

The International Olympic Committee said on Friday it has been in close contact with the United Nations and “the heads of government concerned.”

In Tianjin last month, IOC President Thomas Bach met with China President Xi Jinping, and at the UN in New York this week with South Korea President Moon Jae-in.

People watch a TV screen showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivering a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Kim, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called U.S. President Donald Trump “deranged” and said he will “pay dearly” for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon.The signs read “I was angry.” (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon) 

“In none of the discussions, has anybody expressed any doubt about the Olympic Winter Games 2018,” the IOC said in a statement.

Tensions fueled by North Korea’s missile testing rose this week after U.S. President Donald Trump used his UN General Assembly speech to threaten its destruction. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hit back describing Trump as “deranged.”

France’s sports minister, Laura Flessel, suggested on Thursday the national team could stay at home if its security could not be assured in South Korea.

“Athletes’ safety and security are of course a primary concern for the IOC,” the Olympic body said.

Olympic officials in winter sports hubs like Austria, Denmark and Sweden said on Friday it was too early to doubt their athletes’ participation in Pyeongchang, where the games open on Feb. 9.

“We feel safe,” Peter Reinebo of Sweden’s Olympic Committee said, adding that a decision to stay away would require “an international decision from the United Nations and a strong warning from Swedish authorities.”

“But such things do not exist today. We are completely focused on going and taking part,” Reinebo said.

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